Hong Kong saw multi-district skirmishes between protesters and police as crowds gathered in and around shopping malls on Sunday.
Despite there being no large-scale event planned, protesters responded to online tongue-in-cheek calls to go “shopping” in plazas across the city from 2pm. The malls affected included Sha Tin’s New Town Plaza, Tsuen Wan’s Citywalk, and Kowloon Tong’s Festival Walk.
The unauthorised gatherings came shortly after the death of 22-year-old-student Alex Chow Tsz-lok on Friday from injuries he sustained near a police clearance of a protest earlier in the week.
At Festival Walk in Kowloon Tong, protesters trashed a branch of simplylife, owned by Maxim’s – a catering group which has become the target of vandalism over its owners’ alleged support for Hong Kong’s police. It was defaced with graffiti reading “Sucking up to the Communists” and “Blue-ribbon shop.”
At around 4:30pm, baton-wielding undercover police officers arrested multiple protesters inside the mall, prompting angry shoppers to heckle them.
One man was seen bleeding heavily from his head as police arrested him.
Onlookers attempted to intervene in the arrests, resulting in one officer sustaining an injury near his eye. Riot police arrived shortly after to disperse the crowd.
However, the crowd inside Festival Walk refused to leave. At around 5:15pm, police deployed pepper spray inside the mall while attempting to clear everyone out.
The government released a statement at around 6:10pm defending the police response as reasonable in the face of destructive acts.
“At around 4.30pm today (November 10), some violent protestors recklessly damaged shops in Kowloon Tong Festival Walk. To stop the crime, some police officers attended [to the] scene and arrested several offenders,” it read. “During the arrest, a large group of protesters were clamouring, some even attacked police officers, resulted in the escape of the arrested person. Police officers therefore used [the] minimum necessary force to [carry out] the arrest action.”
In Tuen Mun town centre, protesters tried to block roads in the area using plastic barricades and styrofoam boxes. One individual was seen holding a box of cockroaches – a reference to an insult frequently used by police against demonstrators.
Riot police also entered Siu Lun Court – a private residence – and made at least one arrest.
At around 5:30pm, riot police swept through Tuen Mun to clear remaining protesters.
Meanwhile, in Tsuen Wan, several young people dressed in black were subdued and arrested by riot police in the early afternoon, before protests began.
Some protesters regrouped later to vandalise a Starbucks branch inside Tsuen Wan Plaza.
On a pedestrian footbridge, a woman allegedly slapped a protesting resident, prompting another individual to spray paint her face black, according to local media.
As riot police drove through Tsuen Wan, officers fired two rounds of tear gas at protesters from inside vehicle. One of the canisters struck a Now TV journalist on her left upper arm.
Multiple rounds of tear gas were fired again from 5pm.
At around 8:25pm, police fired tear gas along Tai Ho Road.
In Sha Tin’s New Town Plaza, dozens gathered in the lobby to chant slogans such as “Hongkongers, take revenge” and lay origami cranes at the foot of a makeshift memorial to honour Chow. The mall’s management announced its closure at 4pm, however, crowds remained for several hours.
Some protesters vandalised a Chinese restaurant owned by Maxim’s inside Sha Tin’s Town Hall by upturning furniture and smashing windows. They also damaged several entrance gates and security cameras at Sha Tin’s MTR station.
At around 2:50pm, the MTR Corporation said trains would not call at Sha Tin Station due to safety concerns.
Sunday’s unrest marked the 23rd consecutive week of protests sparked by a now-withdrawn extradition bill, which would have enabled fugitive transfers to mainland China – a jurisdiction with a poor human rights record. The movement has evolved into wider calls for democratic reform and accountability for the police handling of the crisis, as well as other demands.
The MTRC announced on Saturday that train services would end at 10pm due to public safety and vandalism concerns. In recent months, protesters have accused the rail operator of kowtowing to local authorities by closing down stations ahead of authorised and unauthorised public gatherings.
At around 5:30pm, the MTRC said that trains would not call at Ma On Shan station.
Meanwhile, in Central, hundreds gathered at Chater Garden to commemorate Chow. The service was led by members of the Christian community.
As the night progressed, protests broke out in Mong Kok along Shantung Street, Argyle Street and Nathan Road, with police deploying the water cannon truck near Soy Street. Multiple arrests were also made.
Additional reporting: Jennifer Creery.
More to follow.